Almond Coconut Paleta

Blue Diamond sent me some of their Almond Coconut as one of their Tastemakers and asked for a  recipe. Unfortunately with the carageenan in two places in the ingredient list this is not a product that my whole family can enjoy. It does upset one tummy in our home. For the other three of us it is fair game for now.

I looked at the product and decided to make what I do with coconut water. This idea came around during my first birth when I knew I would want something easy and hydrating.

blue diamond paleta ingredients

Simple – grab your milk, vanilla, and cinnamon

blue diamond paletas

Pour into paleta or ice pop molds. I stir with a chopstick after I add a couple of drops of vanilla and a dusting of cinnamon.

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Let freeze and enjoy. This is easy and a great treat to stay hydrated without much sugar as the temperature warms up.

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FTC Disclosure:This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. As a Tastemaker I simply get free product.  All opinions are my own.

Summer Fun with Blue Diamond

Almonds are simple for summer with the delights of being outside and on the go.  I thought the best way to show this would be with my trip to the East Coast over the weekend for Fitbloggin.  I packed up my tin of Blue Diamond Toasted Coconut  Almonds and headed out on an epic journey.

Blue Diamond at the airport

First I am glad I packed them in carry-on luggage because when I got to the airport the restaurants were closed and I did not grab dinner.  This was a good alternative to the snack machine dregs I tried to navigate.

Then during the four-hour road trip to Savannah from Atlanta my tummy clock went off again and these little powerhouses were right there.

Finally I had to take the day further with four hours of kayaking including battling the incoming tide from the Atlantic.  I needed fuel! The tin packed well in my wet bag.

kayaking

The trip was not quite planes, trains, and automobiles but switch out the trains with the kayak and you are there.  This tin was versatile and compact along the way.

For those curious about the ingredients, for the most part they were wholesome with ingredients that I could identify.  I was sent a Toasted Coconut tin and a bag of Blueberry flavored almonds.  The Blueberry ones had blueberry juice and red cabbage juice but I opted to leave them home because the stevia left an aftertaste for me.  I liked the Toasted Coconut a lot with “caramel color” being the major question mark for me.  I generally like my almonds plain – so the flavoring was new for me.  I would consider getting the Toasted Coconut again as a treat while out on the road for sure.

FTC Disclosure – I was not compensated financially for this post.  I am a Tastemaker with Blue Diamond and was sent two regular-sized products to taste and mention in my social media channels.

California Avocado Green Chile Gazpacho

In preparing for Fitbloggin’ this year I am undertaking the challenge by the California Avocado Commission to create an original avocado recipe for California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest. Being a California native who now calls Colorado my home it seemed fitting to pair green chile with avocados. With summer knocking on our door gazpacho seemed like the perfect blend of these two regional foods (I hope you caught that pun).

I came to understand what California avocados really mean when I moved to a Southern and Eastern state for a few years that has a fruit they call an “avocado” but pales in comparison. I grew up with avocados and miss how available they are from the tree for many folks. Instead here in Colorado we have green chile. Technically New Mexico has green chile but Colorado acts like it is ours. Imagine the horror when you succumb to an urge for chili cheese fries only to be served some chile cheese fries. Green chile is king in this state and after six years here I gotta say I am hooked. California avocados and green chile pair very well in general but I thought I would add some crispness to this dish with a touch of fennel. Keep this amount small and consider some sort of pear and celery combo if the anise taste is not for you or hard for you to find.

This soup is simple, it mostly requires food prep and in that end only a small portion of the chopping prep needs to be pretty as a garnish since the rest is blitzed.

gazpacho

Avocado Green Chile Gazpacho

ingredients

2 peeled and pitted California Avocados
2 peeled cucumbers
1/2 bulb of fennel
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
1 small can green chiles (or 1/4 cup diced chiles of your choice)

Coarsely chop and add all ingredients to a bowl except for some fennel shavings, 1/4 cup of cubed cucumber, and 2 tbsp. finely sliced cilantro. Add 3 cups of water. Blend to a fine consistency or whatever consistency you like and chill for an hour.

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Serve gazpacho and garnish with fennel, cucumber and cilantro. Add salt if you need it.

garnish

Fitcation ’13 *much gratitude from my heart

It does not happen often enough that I come back from a vacation relaxed.  With all the effort to make reservations, squirrel money away for a trip, then take time away from my busy life I know it is a 50/50 gamble that I will return needing a vacation from my vacation.  Maybe it is in the expectations I set? Maybe it is in not planning well enough? Or maybe it is in not picking the right experience for me?

Paso Robles, CA is insanely fun with girlfriends!
Paso Robles, CA is insanely fun with girlfriends!

I can happily say that I returned from Paso Robles feeling refreshed.  Fitcation was essentially a balanced lifestyle showcase for social media folks featuring this region.  My Fitcation 13 experience was technically a “working vacation” but my “job” as a yoga instructor even filled my cup with joy and enrichment.  See the follow-up visual essay to experience it as fully as you can virtually. Given my three days on the Central Coast I am tending to think  it was hospitality of the region had a great deal to do with my experience.  Our official affiliates provided top-notch consideration as well as merchants who were not even associated with our itinerary, thus did not know who we were.  This even includes the Waterfront Grill in Morro Bay who were kind enough to make an ice bag for an attendee with an injured knee then refuse to take any payment since a few members of our group had stopped there for a snack a little while beforehand.

SIP Certified is a seal I back 100%
SIP Certified is a seal I back 100%

The kind folks at SIP Certified orchestrated most of our adventures.  They are an agricultural sustainability certification non-profit organization.  They align with my values as a mindful consumer and local economy supporter.  When first approached about Fitcation I was hesitant to attend because I was pregnant at the time and knew my infant would be six months old and barely starting solid foods.  However the SIP Certified involvement is what truly drove me and my family’s effort to make my attendance possible.  They are a brand I trust and had already been eagerly engaging with as a consumer.


SIP Certified began over 15 years ago with 13 brands around the Paso Robles area and has since grown to 170+ brands throughout the state of California.  The certification goes beyond organic with true sustainability applying to not only ecological practices but also  business concerns such as continuing education for employees to continually elevate the quality of the workforce. Since SIP Certified’s roots began in San Luis Obispo County, their high density of brands, regional partners, and supporters agreed to host the group I was invited to attend with.  The primary sponsors of the trip who showcased the balanced lifestyle available for those living in and visiting this region were SIP Certified, Travel Paso Robles and Earth Footwear.

Others helped out to host our group including: Visit San Luis Obispo CountyVisit Cambria, Visit SLO, Morro Bay Tourism
We visited and enjoyed products + services from: Pithy LIttle Wine CompanyBrown Butter Cookie CompanyGeneral StoreStudios on the ParkPomar Junction Vineyard and Winery, Fig Good FoodDig, Deep, Play Hard BootcampCastoro CellarsUnlock WinePasolivoHalter RanchHearst CastleRobin’s Restaurant, ME!!!!, Kayak Horizons, Yacht Club in Morro Bay, Eatz, Tolosa Winery

Then there were the abundant goodies in our swag bags.

The Black Teaberry from Earth Footwear was seriously something with my swag. Seriously.
The Black Teaberry from Earth Footwear was seriously something with my swag. Seriously.

I know that this post reads like a NASCAR vehicle zipping past you with stickers covering every inch of the car.  I try to spare you having my blog read like a commercial UNLESS it is for brands and experiences I truly believe in or at least think you will enjoy. So please be patient and consider these names in your mindful consumer experiences or reach out and ask me specific questions about how I rate what they have to offer or ask them if there is something specific.
Finally I have to give a shout out to Leah Segedie and her team of contributors who worked to make this get-away happen for its third year.  There will be no Fitcation 2014 because Leah’s concentration will be on ShiftCon.  This is a new healthy, wellness conference taking place the first weekend in October in Los Angeles, CA.  Here is a good portion of her

Disclosure: The costs of the events and activities for Fitcation were defrayed by sponsors, and the attendees were contractually obligated to write a summary of the experience and also received free swag items. However, the thoughts and opinions I’m sharing in this post are honest and my own.

Breastfeeding Week + Month

Happy show your bewbies in everyone’s face to be obnoxious week or month! NO, NOT REALLY even though that is how some in the general public seem to perceive this time period.

Yesterday was the last day of World Breastfeeding Week and the end of the first week for National Breastfeeding Month. This is a time to celebrate this simple act that mothers can do for their children. Breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition for kiddos and has a number of health benefits for mothers.

Breastfeeding is a choice for many and an impossibility for some. In that spectrum women face all kinds of Boobie Traps to limit this act including sentiment from others that makes this week and month so important for normalization within our culture. See Best for Babes as a great resource for avoiding cultural boobie traps and your local La Leche League if you need support.

Medical experts from the WHO (World Health Organization) to our own US Surgeon General highly recommend breastfeeding even though you more often then not hear small-minded people or about small-minded actions like a store telling a breastfeeding mother she is not welcomed or more recently a national airline stating their policy is for passengers to coverup (even though not all babies allow themselves to be covered while being fed). The pop culture naysayers are the louder voice in this dialogue every time.

I love this time as health organizations, brands aimed at nursing mothers, and everyday breastfeeding supporters stand united to say this is an encouraged, normalized act if a woman makes this choice.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Breastfeeding Month 2013

I am one of those everyday supporters and have had the proud fortune of having my boobies displayed feeding my son in a great many places online this week with one of my favorite brands. Earth Mama Angel Baby which produces non-toxic wellness products for families used an image of me and my infant from a photo shoot in late June to kick off this month.

Thank you EMAB for what you do everyday to provide support for women and families. Thank you everyone supporting this world week and national month as we work towards normalization in our culture for healthy mamas and babies.

For me this image of me and my son has another piece of significance. Women of color are not often big parts of the breastfeeding discussion in America. As a Blacktina I know that many of my Black peers do not breastfeed as often as other profiled groups. I stand behind this image for many reasons. As a note though I do know many Black women who breastfeed. I hope this national trend continues to narrow the disparity gap.